CONCORD, N.C. — Report by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — John Davison/zMAX Dragway photo —
Despite intermittent rain throughout the afternoon, first round qualifying for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals was completed at zMAX Dragway on Friday, featuring a mammoth track-record run and familiar leaders in all four Pro classes.
However, Friday’s action was rain-shortened, with the second-round of Pro qualifying being washed out due to persistent rain showers that moved into the area late in the afternoon.
Matt Hagan (Funny Car) silenced his critics and the crowd, after the two-time world champion and current 10th-place points man raced to the qualifying lead with a run of 3.941 seconds at 323.50 miles per hour, setting both ends (ET and speed) of the zMAX track record and positioning the Christiansburg, Virginia native as an early favorite for his first win of the season come Sunday afternoon.
“We needed that for our team, for Dickie Venables and for everybody [on this team] that’s been digging deep and working hard to try and figure this stuff out,” said Hagan. “That was one good run. We’ll see if we can go do it again (tomorrow), but I’ll take it, man. We knew there was a chance of rain coming in, (and when there is) you have to get down the racetrack. We’re happy for this Mopar to run that well right off the trailer.”
Hagan’s run was 0.005 of a second quicker than 16-time class champion John Force, who timed in second-quick in the final quad with a 3.946 at a record-tying 323.50 mph. Force is carrying sponsorship from Rick Hendrick City Chevrolet this weekend as a special one-off for the Charlotte event.
“Out of the box, we’re doing OK with this Chevrolet. We’ll see what happens,” said Force. “Hey, I’m sponsored by Hendricks City Chevrolet this weekend and I feel like Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder. I certainly don’t look like him, but I feel like him and that’s a cool deal we’ve worked out with Rick and his team over there. It’s an honor to work with those guys.”
Chad Head was third at a 3.967, followed by four-time championship runner-up Ron Capps (3.986) and Las Vegas winner Alexis DeJoria (4.005) in the fast five. Capps was a DNQ last time out in Las Vegas and is looking for the 44th win of his career.
Defending world champ Del Worsham holds the 12th spot in his DHL Camry after day one.
In Top Fuel, Steve Torrence shot to the top of the charts in the final quad, taking his Capco Contractors dragster to a run of 3.736 seconds at 326.48 mph. Torrence is looking for his second victory of the season after earning a Wally in the season-opening Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.
“We’ve had a really good car all season long, but we’ve had three first-round losses in a row and sort of stumped our toe,” Torrence said. “The same thing happened in Las Vegas [two weeks ago]; we had an awesome car in qualifying, and the track conditions changed, and it bit us in the first round. The car has run unbelievable. That gives you a huge vote of confidence going into the next qualifying round and ultimately sets up the weekend for what you can build off of a lot better.”
“This may play directly into our hand, going out and running as quick as we did (on the) first pass. Tomorrow it’s gonna be … a sunny day and we’re going to run a lot earlier, so I don’t think — I don’t want to put myself in a corner — but I don’t think that anyone’s going to go out and run quicker than a 73. I feel confident in that run and since we’re still trying a few things on our dragster, it’s overall a pretty good day.”
Class points leader Brittany Force ran second in the Monster Energy dragster with a 3.771 at 319.90 mph, and Terry McMillen was third after posting a 3.833 at 314.17 mph. Two-time and defending world champion ended the day fourth provisionally (3.838 at 315.49) and Doug Kalitta slotted in fifth on the ladder (3.844 at 315.64).
Leah Pritchett, who lost her ride with Bob Vandergriff Racing just a week prior to the Four-Wide Nationals, was sixth in the Nitro Ninjette entry for the Lagana family after her pass of 3.880 at 314.02 mph.
The Pro Stock class saw KB Racing continue their early-season run of domination in the new-look class, as team veteran Greg Anderson raced his way into the qualifying lead with a pass of 6.577 at 209.65 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro.
A local favorite from nearby Mooresville who has already won twice this season in the hotly-competitive division, the four-time class champion was all smiles at even getting one round of qualifying in on Friday.
“Honestly, it looked bleak today with the forecast, and we were thankful to get in one round,” said Anderson, also a two-time winner of the Four-Wide Nationals. “We got some intel today. It has become very clear that the pack has made some gains. Now it’s time to get back to work and find some more performance for tomorrow to try and hang on to No. 1. The good news is we have great weather for the rest of the weekend. The track is perfect, and we can tune ‘em up and try to run better tomorrow.”
Reigning rookie of the year Drew Skillman was second for Elite Motorsports with a 6.583 at 209.72 in his Ray Skillman Chevy Camaro and Anderson’s teammate, points leader Jason Line, is third with a 6.585 at 209.10 in his Summit Racing Equipment Camaro. Two-time defending world champion Erica Enders-Stevens sits eighth after the first day with a 6.644 at 207.08.
And in Pro Stock Motorcycle, three-time world champion Eddie Krawiec topped the provisional ladder after a blistering 6.818 second pass at 192.85 mph to lead the two-wheeled class.
“It made an awesome run,” Krawiec said. “Crew chief Matt [Hines] made all the right decisions, and it ran killer to the first 60-foot, and the track was good.”
“In our quad, we had four guys all go 80s. It’s really neat when you have that, and it worked out with all the reaction times being close, so it probably was some neat finish line stuff for a picture. The end result was my Harley [going] 6.81. It was an awesome lap, and I am looking forward to tomorrow.”
Louisiana alligator farmer Jerry Savoie sits second with a 6.841 at 197.62 aboard his Suzuki and two-time defending Four-Wide Nationals winner Andrew Hines is third on the sister Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to Krawiec’s bike, with a 6.851 at 192.77.
Day two qualifying for the NHRA’s pro classes continues on Saturday at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET, where the fields will be set for Sunday’s final eliminations.
RESULTS: NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series; Seventh Annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals; Day One Qualifying; zMAX Dragway; April 22, 2016
- Steve Torrence, 3.736 seconds (326.48 mph)
- Brittany Force, 3.771 (319.90)
- Terry McMillen, 3.833 (314.47)
- Antron Brown, 3.838 (315.49)
- Doug Kalitta, 3.844 (315.64)
- Leah Pritchett, 3.880 (314.02)
- Tony Schumacher, 3.915 (259.36)
- Smax Smith, 4.301 (278.35)
- Shawn Langdon, 7.770 (93.52)
- Richie Crampton, 8.248 (86.63)
- Clay Millican, 12.594 (82.80)
- Pat Dakin, NT (0.00)
- J.R. Todd, NT (0.00)
- Chris Karamesines, NT (0.00)
- Terry Haddock, NT (0.00)
- Scott Palmer, NT (0.00)
Funny Car (top 16 qualify following Saturday runs)
- Matt Hagan, 3.941 (323.50) — NTR
- John Force, 3.946 (323.50)
- Chad Head, 3.967 (315.49)
- Ron Capps, 3.986 (319.67)
- Alexis DeJoria, 4.005 (310.98)
- John Hale, 4.104 (311.99)
- Tim Wilkerson, 4.402 (291.82)
- Cruz Pedregon, 4.729 (175.73) — Blew up
- Daniel Wilkerson, 5.433 (136.94)
- Dave Richards, 7.793 (88.33)
- Courtney Force, 7.810 (85.65)
- Del Worsham, 7.957 (83.65)
- Tommy Johnson Jr., 8.761 (86.46)
- Bob Tasca III, 11.928 (75.56)
- Jack Beckman, 12.175 (71.88)
- Robert Hight, 14.164 (75.18)
- Dale Creasy Jr., NT (0.00)
- Jeff Diehl, NT (0.00)
- Greg Anderson, 6.577 (209.65)
- Drew Skillman, 6.583 (209.72)
- Jason Line, 6.585 (209.10)
- Shane Gray, 6.602 (208.68)
- Vincent Nobile, 6.605 (209.46)
- Bo Butner, 6.608 (208.91)
- Chris McGaha, 6.635 (208.20)
- Erica Enders-Stevens, 6.644 (207.08)
- Jeg Coughlin Jr., 6.660 (207.37)
- John Gaydosh, 7.226 (190.97)
- V. Gaines, 7.433 (204.98)
- Kenny Delco, 9.412 (100.05)
- Allen Johnson, 12.924 (88.85)
- Alex Laughlin, 14.392 (92.21)
- Deric Kramer, 15.391 (49.78)
- Shane Tucker, NT (0.00)
Pro Stock Motorcycles (top 16 qualify following Saturday runs)
- Eddie Krawiec, 6.818 (192.85)
- Jerry Savoie, 6.841 (197.62)
- Andrew Hines, 6.851 (192.77)
- Angelle Sampey, 6.856 (193.38)
- Michael Ray, 6.861 (196.02)
- Hector Arana Sr., 6.877 (195.45)
- L.E. Tonglet, 6.884 (195.17)
- Karen Stoffer, 6.886 (194.97)
- Brian Pretzel, 6.891 (194.07)
- Matt Smith, 6.893 (195.22)
- Scotty Pollacheck, 6.897 (193.10)
- Jimmy Underdahl, 6.905 (196.07)
- Shawn Gann, 6.915 (195.03)
- Steve Johnson, 6.916 (192.55)
- Mike Berry, 6.945 (194.24)
- Angie Smith, 6.967 (190.86)
- Cory Reed, 6.996 (190.57)
- Hector Arana Jr., 7.013 (190.35)
- Joe Desantis, 7.034 (190.54)
- David Hope, 7.037 (189.34)
- Katie Sullivan, 7.048 (185.43)
- Chip Ellis, 7.094 (188.46)
- Lance Bonham, 7.249 (186.20)
- Roy Olsen, NT (0.00)
- Melissa Surber, NT (0.00)
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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